Case closed: "Climategate" was manufactured

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 24 2011 10:04 AM

Case closed: "Climategate" was manufactured

earthonfire

It's not often you can actually say "case closed", but in this case it's literally true: climatologist Michael Mann has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the Inspector General of the National Science Foundation.

Did I say "has been cleared"? I meant has been cleared once again, since there have been several investigations into his research and Dr. Mann has been cleared of all charges every single time (like here and here). All of this stemmed from the "ClimateGate" nonsense of the past couple of years, where leaked emails were taken hugely out of context by the press and climate change deniers, and used to smear scientists. Dr. Mann was at the center of the whole manufactured controversy, being the biggest target of the people who want to deny the Earth is warming up.

This latest, and hopefully last, investigation into Dr. Mann's research (PDF) again shows he is not guilty of misconduct. A couple of the report conclusions are worth pointing out:

We found no basis to conclude that the [Climategate] emails were evidence of research misconduct or that they pointed to such evidence.

That's clear enough, I think. They also said:

There is no specific evidence that [Mann] falsified or fabricated any data and no evidence that his actions amounted to research misconduct.

A big claim by the deniers is that researchers were using "tricks" to falsify conclusions about global warming, but the NSF report is pretty clear that's not true. The most damning thing the investigators could muster was that there was "some concern" over the statistical methods used, but that's not scandalous at all; there's always some argument in science over methodology. The vague language of the report there indicates to me this isn't a big deal, or else they would've been specific. The big point is that the data were not faked.

What does this mean for global warming? A lot of these attacks can be traced back to the famous "hockey stick" diagram, showing how Earth's temperatures have been increasing rapidly in recent times. This graph is what really clinches the idea of man-made global warming, and so has been the epicenter of the manufactroversy. The fact that Dr. Mann has been cleared again, and that his data are good, shows that this graph is even more solid -- or at least is not as weak as so many would lead you to believe.

And what does this mean about "ClimateGate"? That's clear enough: all the outrage, all the claims of fraud and fakery, were just -- haha -- hot air.

Not that this will stop or even slow down the denial machine. Politicians from the Virginia State Attorney General to members of the House of Representatives have been on what I would characterize as witch hunts. Dr. Mann has been vocal in his opposition, and I applaud him. Still, needless to say, the attacks will continue.

Here are the facts: the Earth is warming up. The rate of warming has increased in the past century or so. This corresponds to the time of the Industrial Revolution, when we started dumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases warm the planet (hence the name) -- if they didn't we'd have an average temperature below the freezing point of water. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which is dumped into the atmosphere by humans to the tune of 30 billion tons per year, 100 times the amount from volcanoes. And finally, approximately 97% of climatologists who actually study climate agree that global warming is real, and caused by humans.

Those are simply the facts. It's not hard to connect them, as long as you stick to reality and don't let ideology sway you.

Tip o' the thermometer to DeSmogBlog.

 


Related posts:

- The global warming emails non-event
- Global warming emails followup
- Exclusive: Michael Mann responds to Rep. Barton
- New study clinches it: the Earth is warming up

 

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.